Art co-op starts in Thompson

There’s something new in Thompson called the Northern Culture Artists Cooperative Ltd. and it’s a membership based co-op and studio to help northern artists.

The idea started when Allan Chapman visited the Thompson Lodge and Eco-Tourism

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Centre and spoke to owner Shane Cripps. Chapman had recently set up a co-op in Churchill, and wanted to start one in Thompson as well. Chapman is now currently the elder of the Thompson co-operative.

Cripps, treasurer for the board, says he wanted to be involved to help local artists shine. “I wanted to help the artists that have come to our lodge and our restaurant, who had just finished a work of art, travelling in their cars having to sell them. I thought it would be good to some way promote them. There’s a gap for facilities to work together on art, and promote arts in general.”

Membership started to rise, and the idea came to a head during a September 2014 harm reduction conference. Cripps and Chapman were discussing entertainment for the conference, and then the entertainment acts began talking together, and members joined up.

One member, Markus Mercredi, wanted to get involved to help promote the arts, and become a role model for youth. “I wanted to help people. I wanted to be able to let people come in and come and draw, paint, and do anything I can do. We can have workshops, too.”

The co-op will be opening a studio in June at 97B McGill Place downstairs. Mercredi says they chose that building because it’s a busy neighbourhood. “We were looking for a building that was involved with people. We knew the multi-culture centre is beside it, there’s a school close by, and there’s a lot of kids in the area. We want to focus on the younger generation to show them art.”

Members of the co-operative will have access to the building to create art in, and Mercredi will open up a tattoo parlor as well.

There is an application process to become a member, and there are credentials for memberships. There are two different types of memberships being offered. says Cripps. The first will be a supporter membership. This is for businesses or people that aren’t artists themselves, but want to support the arts, as well as take advantage of the different benefits the membership includes. The second membership is a producer membership. This is for artists who want to be able to share studio space, as well as have the available help to sell their pieces. “The benefits and obligations will change over time as the co-op is growing. For example, we didn’t have a studio workshop before, and now we do, so it’s a new benefit,” noted Cripps.

The Riverview restaurant will have a gallery and gift shop set up for artists to show off their work. The co-operative has also set up a website where all member pieces will be photographed and put up, and purchases can be made online, all over the world.

Cripps says the whole idea behind the co-op is for members to all have the same power, as there is not one owner, and have the chance to sell their art for the dollar value they want.

Although Cripps says there is no end goal for this new venue, he did say he’s excited to grow the arts and culture scene in Thompson, as well as all of Northern Manitoba.

Hopeful members can call Cripps at 204-679-8388, or email recruiting@northerncultureartistscoop.ca for a membership application.

© Copyright Thompson Citizen

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